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Unsuccessful IVF & thinning scalp hair density – what’s the connection?

The Scenario: Young woman in her 20’s actively but unsuccessfully attempting to become pregnant. Similarly late 30’s – early 40’s woman aware of her ‘biologic clock’ and desperately seeking assistance with fertility enhancement from one of the reputable clinics in this field.

Hormonal therapy is undertaken; medication to suppress menstruation, temperature charts, sperm count investigation for the husband/partner – strict regimens on everything from diet to intercourse;  time, travel and significant monetary expenditure.

Hopes are raised of successful fertility – and just as quickly dashed, or conception is temporarily achieved followed by distressing miscarriage within weeks or within the 1st trimester. This situation often repeats itself for many months or even years until the couple are out of money and lost all hope.

The hair loss connection: In my time as a practitioner specialising in female hair & scalp problems, I have spoken with many women who relate the above scenario. They’d initially consulted me for thinning scalp hair concerns, but  mentioned in passing their unsuccessful IVF procedures. 

As hair loss in women is almost always an indicator of underlying nutrient deficiency or metabolic-hormonal disturbance, my consistent approach is to assess causative factors in these areas.

Every one of these clients’ pathology results revealed some aspect of disturbance which was adversely influencing their hair, and (in my opinion) their ability to conceive.  

In very simple terms this is nature’s way of informing the woman if her body cannot support her own hair growth, how can it support another human being developing inside her?

Scalp hair follicles in humans have a unique incongruity about them – hair it is one of the most metabolically-active tissues of the body; continually growing and requiring sufficient, stable nutrient-metabolic-hormonal support to achieve this.

However in these same terms it’s a NON-essential tissue for body functioning, and receives its nutrient-metabolic-hormonal support only when all essential body tissues – such as liver function, skin and muscle repair – have been supplied.

The common but often overlooked cause/s for infertility: insufficient Iron, Vitamin D, Iodine, thyroid hormone co-factors Zinc & Selenium are the most important nutrients for optimal metabolic functioning. Essentially ‘being female’ predisposes women to deficiency in these nutrients than are males.

Excessive hair loss or steady thinning of scalp hair density – or the onset of an autoimmune condition in the predisposed – is often the initial sign of internal disturbance or deficiency.

Optimised thyroid function: T3 (active thyroid hormone – Triiodothyronine), Vitamin D (D3) and Cortisol (CC) receptors must all be in balance – and have the above-named nutrients at target levels (1) to achieve  optimal thyroid-metabolic function (and healthy hair growth).

T3 thyroid hormone is considered the most important hormone for metabolic functioning (Van Zanden 2012) – (2).

What we were able to achieve: once underlying  disturbances were corrected, every client (to my knowledge) recovered their scalp hair density and in short time became pregnant without any fertility intervention.

Some of these women have now given birth to one or two more children since I last saw them – one even called her first son ‘Anthony’~!!

Take home point: As a woman always know that YOU know your body better than anyone else; you live in it and you know how it should feel and how it should function.

Never have your concerns minimised or dismissed as trivial or ‘that’s just what happens’ – particularly if you are experiencing scalp hair loss together with constant tiredness, sensitivity to cooler temperatures, mood disturbance, poor concentration/poor sleep or unexplained fluctuations in weight (unless you are pregnant~!!)

Important note to pregnant women: excessive scalp hair loss in the 2nd-3rd trimester woman should not occur – and is considered a contradiction of the hormonal-mediated influences on hair growth during pregnancy.

Again this usually reflects the nutrient reserves of the mother are becoming compromised, or the onset of metabolic disturbance (3).

All nutrients are essential to the optimal development of a new human being, but some are particularly essential; Iodine for brain development & IQ.

Vitamin D deficiency in a pregnant woman potentially predisposes her child to autism. The Canadian Paediatric Society warns that significant Vitamin D deficiency in the mother will ‘condemn’ her child to a life of poor health: Canadian Paediatric Society. Vitamin D supplementation: Recommendations for Canadian mothers and infants. Paediatr Child Health 2007;12(7):583-9 + Cannell JJ. Autism and Vitamin D. Med Hypotheses 2008;70(4):750-9.

  1. ’target’ nutrient levels for optimal hair growth are at least 50-75% of the respective reference range for each nutrient.
  2. (Chan: 2016) suggests Melatonin is considered the “master hormone” which also regulates t3.
  3. Pregnancy-induced thyroid dysfunction, hypertension or blood glucose issue.

Copyright 2016 – Anthony Pearce (revised April 2021)


Anthony Pearce offers personal online consultations for domestic AND international clients.